John Mellencamp and fiction writer Stephen King expect to complete the stage musical they're working on sometime in February. "Steve has written the most beautiful story," Mellencamp says. "I've writt

John Mellencamp and fiction writer Stephen King expect to complete the stage musical they're working on sometime in February. "Steve has written the most beautiful story," Mellencamp says. "I've written about five songs for this thing and there's not one rock song anywhere near it."

Mellencamp, who last year exclusively revealed plans for the project to Billboard, says he still has about 10 songs to write for the production. "If this works like we think it's going to, it'll be great," he says.

The 49-year-old singer/songwriter and his nine-piece band embarked on their latest concert tour July 31 in San Diego in advance of his 20th album, "Cuttin' Heads," due out in the fall via Columbia. The tour will return to his home state of Indiana in late September for the annual Farm Aid concert. Along with his fellow Farm Aid co-founders Willie Nelson and Neil Young, the event will also feature a solo performance by Dave Matthews.

In December, Mellencamp will receive the 2001 Billboard Century Award, Billboard magazine's highest honor for distinguished creative achievement. The award -- given annually to an artist who has not received the wider recognition his or her ongoing body of work merits -- will be presented in December during the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. The program will air on Fox Television.

Mellencamp says he and King plan to meet early next year to finish work on the musical, which he termed "an American story."


-- AP & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.



Copyright 2001 Billboard.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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